Cocktail Time

by P. G. Wodehouse

Cocktail Time CoverBoy, do I love me some Wodehouse. Of course, I have only read two of his near one hundred works, so this love could be highly conditional and potentially fleeting, but, so far, he’s batting a thousand. For, so far, his stories possess a great mix of wit and absurdities, in both characters and plot, that makes for brilliant comedy.

Cocktail Time concerns the events following the publishing a novel by the same name. It very nearly fell into obscurity, until a Bishop ranted about its indecency from the pulpit, whereupon it became hugely popular and controversial. Worried that it could hurt his political ambitions, its author, Sir Raymond “Beefy” Bastable, tries to assume no responsibility for writing it, and finds himself being blackmailed by his nephew and his nephew’s unsavoury acquaintances in the process. The story largely surrounds Lord Ickenham––one Frederick Altamont Cornwallis Twistleton––Beefy’s friend whose meddling gets him deeper and deeper into the scandal. Cocktail Time is quite funny, but it doesn’t necessarily compare favourably to Carry On, Jeeves, the only other Wodehouse book I’ve read. It has much the same structure as the various tales that make up the latter, but, being a novel rather than a collection of short stories, the problem is in the spreading. This isn’t to say that the humour is spread too thin, merely that the laughs are less punchy and relentless, leaving sufficient time for building of the story, where I was beside myself constantly and consistently with Carry On, Jeeves. Of course, it’s probably one of those “to each his own” scenarios, but I feel that the Wodehouse style seems better suited to the collection of short stories.

All that being said, I don’t want to scare anyone away from Wodehouse. I still found myself laughing out loud frequently at Cocktail Time; I just suspect that my next journey into his world will be another Jeeves collection.